Floyd Cardoz's time as Top Chef Masters king is ticking away, as the show's new season premieres tomorrow (Wednesday, July 25), and he knows that he might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
"I'm sad I only have a few more weeks to be the reigning champion," Floyd joked during an interview with The Dish during the Smithfield Think Pink Pork event that Cardoz was cooking at. Having beaten out Traci Des Jardins and Mary Sue Milliken to win Season 3 of TCM, Floyd has some advice for the fourth season's competitors when it comes to upping your chances at winning: Be yourself.
"You have to cook from your heart," he told us. "I cook to what speaks to me and what puts a part of myself in the food. On the show that's what I did. I put myself in my food every single day."
Looking back, Floyd loved the cameraderie of hanging out with Traci and his pal John Currence, and he also reminisced a bit about his favorite moments from the season.
"The one that really got me was being able to cook for The Biggest Loser. That felt good to be able to use my talent to do that, and also the episode with the servicemen. I'm sure most people in the United States would have the same reaction because you meet people you only usually hear about, because most people don't have a brother or a cousin in the Army. So, when you see people in the flesh and meet them, it really affects you and you feel good about it." Watch below and read more of Floyd's interview.
Speaking of feeling good, once he did win, the reaction from fans of the show was a major shock to Floyd. "The reaction from fans is what surprised me the most. So many people watch and you don't know -- to see how many people watch is amazing," he said. "Most of the fans are the nicest people. As a person who's done a lot of this, having fans that care about the food and about the chef is really great."
At the event, Floyd was whipping up all things porcine -- from homemade chorizo to smoked loin to neck and trotter croquettes -- ringing home the new USDA guidelines that pink pork at a temperature of 145 degrees is now acceptable. He says he comes from "maybe the only state in India" in which pork is a main part of the diet, and that "it's been a big part of my culture with the Portuguese. My grandparents always raised pigs and slaughtered them and made sausage and cured meats and stews. Pork has always been a part of my lexicon. It's more versatile." And aside from just schooling people to the new pink pork revolution, Cardoz also hopes people will expand their boundaries when it comes to different cuts.
"Offal is something that all my great grandmothers never wasted. Pigs feet, pig nose, pig ears -- they always found a way to use it," he says.
Tune into Top Chef Masters when it returns Wednesday at 10/9 Central!